Reader Q&A: East Meck football job, charter schools, the NCHSAA, and all-state teams

Langston Wertz Jr.
·4 min read

Each week, Observer sports reporter Langston Wertz Jr. will answer reader questions. If you have a question, submit it here.

Q. I heard that East Mecklenburg’s football job is open. Is that true?

True.

East Mecklenburg athletic director Jason Fowler announced the position being open Monday morning. Former coach Robert Forshee, who is battling cancer, will not return. Forshee wanted to spend more time focusing on his family and his health. Fowler said Forshee is doing well.

Forshee didn’t coach this spring. Offensive line coach and offensive coordinator Spencer Shaw was interim coach.

The job posting will be open until the end of next week and Fowler said a hiring committee will begin to review resumes after that. Fowler said he hoped to have a new coach named before June 1.

“And hopefully before then,” he said.

Q. Who is the best high school football player people don’t hear about enough?

Man, we cover a lot of schools in the Charlotte and Triangle area and you’re probably going to get me in trouble, but let’s try Monroe High junior Shaleek Knotts. A 6-foot-2, 175-pound junior, Knotts plays wide receiver and defensive back. 247 Sports ranks him No. 3 in North Carolina in the class of 2022 behind Greensboro Grimsley defensive end Travis Shaw and Salisbury linebaker Jalon Walker.

Knotts is the No. 12 recruit nationally at wide receiver and the No. 90 player nationwide, regardless of position. He’s a gamebreaker on either side of the ball.

This year he’s thrown for 86 yards and caught 21 passes for 422 yards in seven games. On defense, he’s got 35 tackles and two interceptions.

Knotts will be a special guest on Talking Preps Tuesday night at 8, by the way.

Q. Do you think Independence High School will ever win back-to-back NC state championships again in this new football era?

Well, the Patriots are really the reason why Charlotte football has become so good. People forget pre-Independence, the city would often only get one or two teams out of the first round of the playoffs. From 2000-07, Independence won seven straight state championships and reached eight state finals.

The Patriots machine has slowed down since then, but in high school football, we’ve seen programs rise up out of the ashes before. Right coach, right quarterback, right season or couple of seasons and anything is possible.

Q. I saw that N.C. lawmakers really challenged the NCHSAA over its finances and charter schools. What are your feelings about those issues?

I think the NCHSAA is in a real gray area, as a nonprofit that oversees (mostly) public schools. I also think they do a good job and they are overseen by member schools, who probably wouldn’t like poor management.

I thought some of the elected officials were extra aggressive last week, but I think transparency in finances is always good, and we discovered that the NCHSAA has been a really good steward of its money, with an endowment worth more than $25 million.

I think you have to be careful about opening up the coffers too much, and I think there will be a push to do so, because the idea was to use the interest from the endowment and not the endowment itself, save for a “rainy day.”

We’re in a rainy day now, for sure. But you want to make sure the association can still provide aid to member schools when we’re faced with the next major obstacle, whenever that is.

As for charter schools, there’s little doubt that there are some competitive imbalances when a 1A charter that can get kids from multiple counties — so long as students live within a 25-mile radius of the school — is facing a traditional small private.

A new playoff formula from the NCHSAA is expected to push some of those charters up to 2A in the playoffs. Ultimately, I think that’s what 1A schools wanted. Now, if it happens that way, we’ll see how 2A schools feel about it.

Q. You tweeted that the Associated Press will not do all-state teams and statewide polls. Why is that?

The AP said the changes were “due to a lack of time and resources needed to compile and prepare releases.”

We are planning at the News & Observer and Charlotte Observer to provide both statewide polls, beginning next fall, and all-state teams for boys and girls basketball and football. Those all-star teams will appear this spring.